A midrash on 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

For though we live fully as human beings, living fully in this world, loving this world, and suffering with, in, and for this world, we do not wage our war according to the pattern of this age, the old age, the age of death, the age that assumes and asserts its sovereignty and normality. For the weapons of our warfare do not belong to anything latent in the potentials and powers of this world; no, the weapons of our warfare are mighty, made for the work of demolishing fortresses, of striking off any and all fetters, of bringing freedom to every captive, of raising from the ashes all those who weep and have no hope; the weapons of our warfare are not of this age, they are not carnal, but mighty, and they are for the obliteration of every wall, of every chain, and every boundary. With them we tear down arguments, rational explanations, reasonable, well-balanced perspectives, and measured, non-overstated, nuanced systems of thought; we tear them down along with every arrogant and subtle obstacle that is raised up against the Gospel of God as made known in Jesus Christ. Instead we attack any and all of these thoughts, we bind them and take them captive. We render them powerless and make them obedient to Christ, the Crucified and Risen Lord. We leave nothing out, we hold nothing back, for all things will be liberated in captivity to Christ, the Crucified and Risen One.

24 comments on this post.
  1. Nate Kerr:

    This is the work of theology.

  2. Adam Kotsko:

    “Midrash” is apparently the Hebrew term for “really wordy paraphrase.”

  3. Anthony Paul Smith:

    “With them we tear down arguments, rational explanations, reasonable, well-balanced perspectives, and measured, non-overstated, nuanced systems of thought; we tear them down along with every arrogant and subtle obstacle that is raised up against the Gospel of God as made known in Jesus Christ.”

    I think you mean you ignore them and do all your “theology” on facebook behind closed accounts with people who already agree with you. Pretty sure it’s all white people too. Mostly men. With mostly liberal-leaning politics, coupled with “reservations” about homosexuality and abortion rights, and a set of the same loved texts. How apocalyptic! Unless you mean that this is what St. Paul did and then, well, fair enough, but what does that have to do with Christianity?

  4. Ry Siggelkow:

    Anthony, aren’t we past this?

  5. Matt Frost:

    And lest any be confused, this is the rage of love, and not of war on human flesh for its own sake. For we are gentle and merciful love with you, and bold and sharp-tongued love when away — all Godly jealousy in Christ, and in Christ all Godly care and kindness. We stand ready to batter down every obstacle to your hearts — so that your hearts and minds may be open to God in love because of the gospel. And so we are bold to demand from you our right not to be required to wage Godly war as though to win you again for Christ!

  6. Matt Frost:

    Or, in less “really wordy paraphrase,” Nate is right, but this is only a work of theology, and not the work of theology. It is regrettably necessary work — but God willing and humanity submitting, we won’t have to keep fighting for the same damned ground over and over again. The apocalyptic lives for the sake of hope, and only so.

  7. Adam Kotsko:

    Ry, ever the peacemaker!

  8. Adam Kotsko:

    Stupid auto-correct: I originally typed “patronizer.”

  9. Anthony Paul Smith:

    Probably would be if I wasn’t forwarded shit talking that happens on facebook walls. Shit talk in public, for fucks sake!

  10. Ry Siggelkow:

    It’s certainly not coming from us, dude.

  11. Ry Siggelkow:

    Haha.

  12. Ry Siggelkow:

    Actually, just yesterday I told someone how much I like you and how I really hope we can hang out when you come out to Philly.

  13. david cl driedger:

    I do hope this bravado is followed up with more public forms of engagement (taking captive?). I don’t know what your track record is Ry but there is plenty of unnecessary jabs at AUFS folks when it comes to meta-conversations about theology by regulars that visit here and other places. I mean people are bound to have beefs and say stupid things but I think Anthony is right in that you might as well do it in ‘public’ or just get over it and do theology in your own form regardless of other conversations.

  14. david cl driedger:

    I think actually what initially struck me about this post (having read it before any comments but Nate’s) was that if this is theology then it would seem that the folks at AUFS are doing it pretty well in how they ‘attack’ and ‘do not hold back’ for the sake of ‘tearing down arguments’ through the various events, invitations to post and relatively transparent disclosure when it comes to the topics at hand. In any event that is why I hope there is some follow up from this post. Of course not that it has to have anything to do with the project(s) over at AUFS but that good public discourse is actually a valuable asset.

  15. Cade:

    Wait, so this post only as meaning as it relates to AUFS? I am still trying to figure out how it related at all to AUFS and why no one minus Matt actually responded to the content of the post. Isn’t this post as example of doing theology in his form? Why does this all revolve around some people hurt about Facebook?

  16. Nate Kerr:

    Matt:

    I really do think that this is the work of theology: to witness to the gospel in ways that liberate us for captivity to Christ, his death and resurrection.

  17. david cl driedger:

    I think you missed the point of my second comment, which is a response to the post.

  18. Matt Frost:

    Nate, I’ll grant that paraphrase, certainly. But it encompasses more paths to that objective than the opening midrash — faithful as it is to Paul in the verses under construction. It is less than faithful if taken outside of its context as an end in itself. Paul’s liberating work does not begin in this spiritual warfare in the terms he uses in the Corinthian correspondence, nor do I see his hope resting in it. The witness is not permitted to be hostile — only the prosecutor is, and this passage in its context speaks of prosecution as one strategy in the apostolic bag, a preparation for witness without being witness itself.

    And, that said, I also have to insist on theology as a discipline in which we put up arguments, explanations, and systems of thought, though these describe the Object of our trust and must never become objects of our trust in their own rights. We build up just as much as we tear down — and if we do not, there is pathology that needs to be addressed in the performance of our gospel liberation.

  19. david cl driedger:

    I should also add, as I have alluded to, that my major investment in this discussion is that in fact it is going on in this particular medium and in other semi-public online spaces. And I am invested in this because I have few other forums for such ‘live’ discussion.
    So while I would maintain that there are many ways of performing faith (I would prefer that phrase to ‘doing theology’) this is a particular one. To the extent that Halden, Ry, Nate, Kait, and company (not that I do not distinguish their contributions only that I see some broad continuities) are doing it particularly online it seems that the best I am coming to understand their discourse is as a sort of poetics which is attached to a generalized social concern. Beyond that it seems to remain in a sort of in-house barthianism that I don’t get.
    I don’t write off their contribution. I just simply don’t understand it. Or better put, I have not found a way either to learn from it or effectively engage with it (not that this is their issue). And to the extent that online forums are helpful for in-house conversations that is fine as well of course.
    So I make no claim on other performances of faith that I am not aware of. I am simply interested in how theology (to move back to that term) can be done well in this medium, which I think it can and is being done.
    And to return to Cade’s brief comment I think this does relate to Halden’s post here precisely because it is offered in this medium and I hope to see further development or clarifying of its expression or of pointing out to where he sees this happening, simply because I am interested and want to know. My sense is that the pointing will be again towards a certain aesthetics or general social action but I am genuinely not sure.

  20. Evan:

    While Matt was concerned about your use of “the”, Nate, I’m wondering about your use of “this”.

    When you say, This is the work of theology”, are you saying that,

    1) Halden is talking about the work of theology here – i.e., that “theology should be tearing down arguments, rational explanations, reasonable, well-balanced perspectives, and measured, non-overstated, nuanced systems of thought,”

    or 2) what Halden is doing here is an example of the work of theology – i.e., that “theology should be saying that the work of the Gospel is to tear down arguments, rational explanations, reasonable, well-balanced perspectives, and measured, non-overstated, nuanced systems of thought.”

    Both of these options put theology in a pretty awkward place vis a vis the Gospel, but I think there is a good bit of truth in the second. The first would concern me a lot more.

  21. Nate Kerr:

    This “is”: (the work of) theology.

  22. Evan:

    I’m not sure what the added punctuation is intended to clarify.

  23. Nate Kerr:

    The work of theology is: this.

  24. APS:

    You’re stoned. Awkward.